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Red and White Scrimmage - A Few Observations

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A rollicking good time was had by all today with the White team taking the scrimmage 4-3 with an overtime marker. More importantly, some of the guys showed quite well. Others, well it's still training camp.

Players salute fans after the Red-White Scrimmage on Sunday
Players salute fans after the Red-White Scrimmage on Sunday
photo by Jamie Kellner

While I can't tell you much about the other festivities at the Caniac Carnival today, the Red and White game was a raucous affair. At time raggedy, it was still a very good test of primarily the youngsters. In fact the oldest player to participate was Drew MacIntyre who, incidentally flashed some impressive leather a few times.

Arriving a few minutes before the guys started taking their warm-ups, Bill Peters was waxing positively about the team and the season to come. To paraphrase Chip Alexander's tweet relating Peters' intimation, if some team is going to surprise people, why can't it be the Hurricanes. Peters also spoke to the excitement that 3 on 3 overtime was going to bring, that the Canes would be practicing it, and that our blueline scoring potential would add an interesting twist. There were some words about the new coach's challenge and how that was going to play out. Finally, I still like Bill Peters despite his now stated preference for the clearly inferior Western NC barbecue (can you tell I'm an Eastern BBQ fan).

What follows will be less of a recap of the "game" and more random observations on the play of the team as well as that of specific players. Mostly I saw some pleasant surprises but a couple of question marks too.

  • Michelle McMahon, sure she's not a player, but she has game. During pregame announcements she was poised and on point. She's a clear upgrade.
  • Derek Ryan does not play small. He is indeed a very good passer. And he is a finisher as demonstrated by the goal he scored, the first of the game.
  • Noah Hanifin is such a good skater. It is enhanced by the way he thinks the game as he carries the puck and makes spot-on passes, which are often so good his teammates don't expect them. He really is very good and even though this wasn't a huge true test, he continues to prove that he belongs. Hanifin also got a ton of ice time.
  • The Red team's 1st goal was a beautiful scoring play where Hanifin carried the puck in, it found it's way to Tolchinsky who made a terrific pass back to Noah for the close-in score.
  • Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm, whom I expected to dominate, didn't show anything particularly special. Both had trouble keeping the puck on their sticks and Rask didn't win any faceoffs that I saw. In my notes I wrote that they looked "scattered". Victor did make a few nice passes later in the game and Lindy did have a couple of nice moves, but I just expected more considering the competition.
  • Phil Di Giuseppe played exceptionally well. He was fast, played with a physical edge (and seemed much stronger than I remembered), and has great hands. He scored a goal on a nice T.J. Hensick pass. What was key about it was that he muscled his way to the net-front and held his position to take advantage of the feed. He's making a push to be in the conversation.
  • Drew MacIntyre played a pretty solid game. D-Mac made a few very nice saves even though he gave up two goals, but the 1st Ryan goal could arguably be chalked up to traffic in front and the second goal...
  • ... scored by Lucas Wallmark was a very sweet bit of stick fake on a 3 on 1 where he ended up taking it himself. Wallmark was very evident on several shifts, making heady plays and what can only be called pin-point passes. I truly hope he chooses to play in Charlotte this year as I think he could be pretty special.
  • Chris Terry definitely looked like he was a step above a lot of these guys. He made several nice puck possession plays. He also had a picture perfect pass on a 2 on 1 breakaway that Nestrasil potted.
  • Erik Karlsson reinforced that he's a very speedy player. He seemed a little lost in the Peters system today and seemed to get turned around a number of times. He'll benefit a great deal from a year in Charlotte. Like this summer he showed his passing acumen a couple of times which bodes well for his overall game.
  • Sergey Tolchinsky was another guy who was very evident, made a number of really good passes, but most positively he had no problem battling the bigger bodies on the boards. He often was the one who came away with the puck. Is he NHL ready? It's still too early to tell, but he seems to keep passing test after test.
  • One very intersting line that was thrown out there was a Brendan Woods, Nicolas Roy, Justin Shugg line. They looked pretty good together. Woods had a lot of energy and Shugg skated pretty well too. But all things considered neither was as visible as....
  • .... Nicolas Roy, who is going to be very, very good (he did just get sent back to juniors in the first set of cuts). It appears as if he continues to work on his skating and his play with the puck on his stick is excellent. He is very "slick". This was no more evident than on the go ahead overtime goal where he made a fantastic puck fake and then slipped it to Woods for the score.
  • Hadyn Fleury likes to rush the puck up the ice and he's good at it, protecting it with his big body and fluid skating style.
  • Brock McGinn didn't particularly stand out, nor did he have any major mistakes. I'm not sure how to take that.
  • Jaccob Slavin again impressed with his passing, crisp and on target. He also recovers very well.
  • From the few times I watched him, Rasmus Tirronen quietly had a very good stint in the net.
  • Poor Daniel Altshuller. He played an excellent game only to be victimized by a couple of 2 on 1 breakaways. For my money either he or possibly Tirronen were the best goalies on the ice.
  • Pesce and Carrick played a lot of minutes together. They both looked quite good and especially poised. I couldn't help but think I was seeing the top pairing in Charlotte this year.
  • Poor Zach Boychuk, he was almost invisible again. Josh Wesley didn't stand out either.
Chip Alexander tweeted that 8 kids were sent back to juniors after the end of the scrimmage. I can't argue about any of them (Bishop, Lorentz, Petti, Roy, Smallman, Jenkins, Wesley, and Booth) because none of these guys were going to sniff at the roster. Still, I would have liked to see Roy in a real game. I have a tiny bit of concern about Lindholm and Rask not being able to be a little more dominant, but given that each side was essentially playing the same system and against the same system, it's probably a misplaced worry.

To me the guys who clearly stood out were Noah Hanifin, Phil Di Giuseppe, Chris Terry, Derek Ryan, and Brett Pesce. I also liked Altshuller in goal but have to admit to not watching Tirronen enough to say whether or not he equaled Daniel's work.

Lastly, there was a palpable excitement in the air. It was difficult to put one's finger on the why, maybe hopefulness, maybe the feeling of youth. Regardless, it was a really cool vibe and think that we may be very surprised this season.